Health Advocate Blog

Preparing for Open Enrollment

Annual open enrollment is finally here!  It’s time to review your current benefits, and maybe even choose new benefits.  But make sure you’re making an educated decision–not understanding your benefits and/or taking the time to choose the appropriate benefits can be a problem. In fact, a recent study by Aflac showed that 56 percent of American workers estimate they waste up to $750 each year because of costly mistakes they have made with their health insurance benefits.

It’s important to fully understand your benefits, especially if you are making changes in your life, or are expecting big changes in the coming year –like getting married, or thinking about starting a family. These are questions you need to ask yourself when selecting benefits this open enrollment period. 

Health Advocate, Inc. offers the following tips to help you make the best choices to meet your needs.

  • Don’t over-insure or under-insure. Before choosing a plan, it’s important to assess your current health and financial circumstances.  For instance, patients with a chronic condition should consider a plan that covers numerous visits to doctors and specialists. For those planning on starting a family, it’s important to look for insurance that will cover prenatal care. If you are young and relatively healthy, you could consider a high-deductible health plan in order to save money on monthly premiums. 
  • Check to see if your doctors are in-network. Don’t automatically assume your doctor is covered in your plan’s network.  If you go out-of-network, you will be paying more out-of-pocket costs to see your preferred doctor.  Contact your insurance company to find an in-network doctor or call your Personal Health Advocate, who can help you locate a physician.
  • Your current health plan may not be right for you. Your coverage may have changed. Maybe your copay is higher or maybe your prescriptions are not covered anymore. Take the time to look into other policies that may better fit your health needs.  
  • Take into account any life changes.  Are you planning to have a baby and need maternity coverage, or are you adding an adult child (up to 26 years old) to your plan? Don’t assume that your current plan will automatically provide coverage. Review your benefits carefully.
  •  Know the differences between a Health Savings Account (HSA) and a Flexible Spending Account (FSA). Depending on your company’s benefit offerings, both HSAs and FSAs may be available, and it’s important to understand the differences between the two so that you can choose the one that best meets your needs. For example, both options allow you to put money aside into a fund for medical expenses. But an HSA can be held on until retirement if you choose, while the funds in an FSA will be lost before the end of the plan coverage period if it is not used. 
  • If one is available, budget your Health Savings Account (HSA) properly. An HSA can be spent on qualified health expenses, such as most major medical, dental or vision. The money placed in an HSA is pre-tax and accrues interest year after year, so you never have to deal with “use it or lose it.”

If you are a Health Advocate member and you have questions about your benefits, call us today!  A Personal Health Advocate can address your questions or concerns and help you better understand the ins-and-outs of your health plan.